Dendritic cells, particularly those residing in the spleen, are thought to orchestrate acquired immunity to malaria, but it is not known how the splenic dendritic cell population responds to malaria infection and how this response compares with the responses of other antigen-presenting cells. We investigated this question for Plasmodium chabaudi AS infection in C57BL/6 mice. We found that dendritic cells, defined here by the CD11c marker, migrated from the marginal zone of the spleen into the CD4(+) T-cell area within 5 days after parasites entered the bloodstream. This contrasted with the results observed for the macrophage and B-cell populations, which expanded greatly but did not show any comparable migration. Over the same time period dendritic cells showed upregulation of CD40, CD54, and CD86 costimulatory molecules that are required for successful T-cell activation. In dendritic cells, the peak intracellular gamma interferon expression (as shown by fluorescence-activated cell sorting) was on day 5, 2 days earlier than the peak expression in B-cells or macrophages. These findings show that splenic dendritic cells are actively engaged in the earliest phase of malarial infection in vivo and are likely to be critical in shaping the subsequent immune response.

Type

Journal article

Journal

Infect Immun

Publication Date

2004

Volume

72

Pages

4233 - 4239